Putting the brakes on Marysville-Pilchuck’s vaunted running game, the Oak Harbor High School football team blanked the Tomhawks 28-0 Friday, Sept. 7, in the Wesco and home opener at Wildcat Memorial Stadium.
Marysville-Pilchuck, behind a jumbo and veteran offensive line, rushed for a staggering 525 yards in its 63-34 win over Snohomish last week.
Oak Harbor limited M-P to 127 yards on the ground. The Tomahawks’ Trenton Hurst, who ran for over 200 yards against Snohomish, was held to 56 yards on 12 carries.
“Our guys up front — both ways — really got after it,” Oak Harbor coach Jay Turner said “They were outweighed by 30 pounds per man, but they controlled the flow.”
He praised the play of De’Andre Bennett, Nate Nunez, Michael Fisken, Ethan Pace and Brandon McCollough for their work on both sides of the ball.
The Wildcats, like Marysville-Pilchuck, is a run-centric team. However, unlike the Tomahawks, Oak Harbor was able to move the ball and eat away at the clock.
Oak Harbor rushed for 280 yards, led by Aaron Martinez with 98 yards on 16 carries. Caden Leckelt added 81 yards on 17 runs, and Dorian Hardin had 71 on 11 runs.
The Wildcats held he ball most of the second half, restricting the Tomahawks to two possessions and 13 plays after the break.
For all the running that was going on, the few passes Oak Harbor quarterback Caleb Fitzgerald threw were key to the game.
He tossed only four passes, completing two; both completions resulted in touchdowns. The first came on Oak Harbor’s third play of the game when he hit Hardin in stride for a 64-yard score. Jake Mitten kicked his first of four successful PATs, and the ‘Cats led 7-0.
In the second quarter, Fitzgerald dropped back to pass but a saw a huge hole in the Tomahawk defense and ran for an 18-yard score.
Oak Harbor scored in its first possession of the second half when Fitzgerald connected with Brecken Collins for a 9-yard score.
The Wildcats finished the scoring on their next possession when Hardin scooped up a teammate’s fumble and raced the final 17 yards to the end zone.
Then, after Oak Harbor stopped the Tommies, the Wildcats methodically marched down the field and ate upon the final 9:26. The drive and game ended on a Fitzgerald kneel-down at the M-P 14-yard line.
The Wildcats tallied 350 yards of offense to Marysville-Pilchuck’s 163.
Oak Harbor made two major mistakes, hiking the ball over the punter’s head and muffing a punt. Both times the Tomahawks took over in Oak Harbor territory, once at the 31, but couldn’t score against the stout Wildcat defense.
Next week, Oak Harbor (2-0) hosts Sedro-Woolley (1-1) in a 7 p.m. non-league game Friday, Sept. 14. The Cubs are coached by former Wildcat head man Dave Ward, who led Oak Harbor to the 2006 state title. Woolley won the state championship in 2014 and reached the semis in 2015.